IDEC Report: The Evolution of FIDER

June 21, 2006
By Betsy Gabb, IDEC, IIDA
Excellence in interior design education rests on the continued collaboration between educators, practitioners and professional associations.

IDER is now 35 years and counting. Established in 1970, the intent of the FIDER founders was to promote excellence by developing standards for interior design education and to acknowledge the increasing demands of an emerging profession. While much has changed in thirty-five years, the relationship of FIDER to the design profession and the importance of volunteer leadership remain critical. FIDER's mission continues much as it was envisioned by its founders: "FIDER provides the foundation for excellence in the interior design profession by setting standards for education and accrediting academic programs that meet those standards." (FIDER, January 2005.)

"From its beginning, FIDER has consistently collaborated with the community of stakeholders in the development of standards for interior design education……." Beth Harmon- Vaughn, FIIDA, 2004 Chair, FIDER Board of Directors (Interiors & Sources, September 2004, p. 55). The collaboration between interior design educators and practitioners has continued over the years through participation in FIDER and support of its accreditation activities. Today, FIDER maintains relationships with the American Society of Interior Designers, the International Interior Design Association, the Interior Design Educators Council, the Interior Designers of Canada, and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. (FIDER, January 2005.)

The FIDER governance structure as described in the FIDER Accreditation Manual 2005 has evolved with the organization and the profession, and today is represented by the following groups:

  • The Board of Directors, as the governing body of the Foundation, is responsible for ensuring that FIDER fulfills its mission. The Board sets standards for postsecondary interior design education, maintains relationships with the design community, and secures funds and other resources. The Board is responsible for maintaining the legal, fiscal and ethical integrity of FIDER. There are nine Directors on the FIDER Board from each of its constituent groups (ASID, IIDA, IDEC, IDC, NCIDQ) and individuals who represent each of the following interests: public, industry, FIDERaccredited interior design programs, and the FIDER Accreditation Commission. The executive director serves as an ex-officio member of the Board.
  • The Standards Council develops, reviews and revises standards for the purpose of assessment, taking into consideration the body of knowledge and changes in society, higher education and the profession. Standards are written to ensure measurability and reliable application. Council recommendations are reviewed by the Accreditation Commission and forwarded to the Board of Directors for approval. The Standards Council also performs an annual review to monitor relevant issues and determine areas or items for immediate revision to current standards. As changes in the profession or higher education warrant, comprehensive research into the field of interior design and education is conducted to determine appropriate revisions to all standards. Most recently the standards have been revised to reflect the current movement toward sustainability and green design.
  • The Accreditation Commission is composed of six individuals with prior experience in FIDER accreditation, including service as a site visitor and on the Evaluation Committee. This ensures an appropriate level of understanding of FIDER accreditation practices and procedures. A balance is maintained between practitioners and educators within the Commission membership. The FIDER Accreditation Commission acts as an independent body regarding the accreditation of academic programs and is the final authority on all decisions relating to the accreditation status of programs.
  • Supporting the work and activities of the Accreditation Commission are the members of the Evaluation Committee who chair site visit teams, and the Site Visitors who visit interior design programs seeking accreditation. Site visitors must have appropriate academic credentials, teaching or relevant professional experience in the field of interior design, objectivity and strong communication skills. Site visitors are appointed by the FIDER Board of Directors following an application process. An on-going training program promotes good practices in accreditation and maintains currency with FIDER requirements.
  • The Research Council reviews and conducts research activities in interior design, specifically to determine those factors that may impact the future of the profession, education preparation of entry-level practitioners, and accreditation. The Research Council reports to the Board of Directors.
  • In addition to the daily work of the Foundation, the Board of Directors appoints an advisory group of experts, the Future of Interior Design Roundtable. Individuals current with the field, interior design education, or higher education, make up the group which meets once a year to advise FIDER on trends that may lead to changes in accreditation standards, policy or procedures.

While much has changed in thirty-five years, the relationship to the professional design organizations and the importance of volunteer leadership to FIDER cannot be overstated. Currently over 130 design professionals volunteer their time and expertise on behalf of interior design education. These individuals represent all facets of the design profession— practice, education, industry— throughout North America. Interior design education and the profession have made great strides since FIDER's inception and the first accreditation of educational programs. Collaboration between FIDER, interior design educators and professionals is central to the continued development of excellence in interior design education. Your involvement ensures that the profession will continue to grow and evolve for the better—get involved and become a volunteer today!


    Betsy Gabb, IDEC, IIDA, is a member of the FIDER Board of Directors and an educator at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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